Iconic police chopper retires after 42 years of service

Brnik – Having saved countless lives in its 42 years of service, the Agusta Bell AB-212 police chopper officially retired on Tuesday after clocking 9,993 flight hours to become part of the collection of the Slovenian Police Museum.

The helicopter, known as Bravo in police jargon, was given a retirement ceremony at the headquarters of the police air unit at Brnik that befits its significance in Slovenia’s history.

“What makes it a history-making and top-notch museum showpiece not only in Slovenia but also broader is […] the immeasurable number of lives it has saved and newborns it has carried,” said the police.

Bravo begun its career at the foot of the Alps in 1980 as a Yugoslav helicopter, first in support of police tasks and then serving the ever new needs, including to transport goods.

Its rescue missions also expanded through the years, from mountain rescue to inter-hospital transfers, the air emergency service to training and development of new rockface rescue techniques.

Considering the number and great scope of the rescue missions it has been involved in and the long years of service, the police believe the AB-212 is among the choppers that have saved the largest numbers of lives in Europe.

Since 1980 it has been involved in all major rescue missions, including in response to the 1989 accident in which four members of a German family were killed as their sports aircraft hit the north face of Mt Triglav and the 1997 tragedy in which five experienced mountain rescuers were killed in an accident while training at Okrešelj.

It was also involved in the rescue response to the May 2014 flooding in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

On 12 June 1991 it carried the Slovenian flag to Mt Triglav, Slovenia’s highest peak, before being moved to a hidden location to escape the Yugoslav army’s bombardment of the air police unit hangar at Brnik.

Bravo has also transported material to build and renovate mountain huts, erect and put apart radio and TV converters and transmitters and build cargo lifts in the mountains.

It has even airlifted to safety a bull bitten by a poisonous snake and carried into the valley more than a hundred sheep that were killed by a lightning strike on the ridge of Košuta.

Eventually, the Agusta Bell AB-212 will be permanently exhibited at the Pivka Park of Military History.